Utah legislature looking at tough $90 million challenge for education

It looks like Utah will have to find at least $90 million in one-time money to pay for public education next year. State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who is chairman of the senate’s Executive Appropriations Committee, says there was an unexpected influx of new students this year.

The influx was partially due to an increase of students from Hilldale who will be attending public schools for the first time.

So what will that mean for educators?

“I’m fairly confident we’ll be able to fund that,” says Hillyard. “But when you take that $90 million off the table that represents, in effect, a 3% (weighted people unit) increase. So that’s money that won’t be going to teacher salaries because we don’t manufacture money.

“We have what we have and we have to allocate that the very best that we can. So if we take $90 million off the table initially to fund the new growth, it will take it away from what would normally be used for salary increases and the WPU that goes across the board.”

Hillyard says there are extra pressures such as pre-school – children who need all-day kindergarten because of problems at home – and also to help pay for technology which is an expensive necessity.

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